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tv   Business Briefing  BBC News  December 19, 2017 5:30am-5:46am GMT

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this is business briefing. i'm sally bundock. a day of reckoning for retail group steinhoff. the owner of the poundland brand here in the uk is meeting with it's creditors, and it could be a question of life or death for the company. and the chairman of the london stock exchange group will learn his fate today, as shareholders vote on whether to oust him or not over the departure of a former chief executive. and on the markets, asian stocks are broadly higher, as optimism grows that us legislators are on the brink of passing sweeping tax cuts. the future of the south african retail group, steinhoff, hangs in the balance. it's battling a huge accounting scandal. today is a big day. the retailer is meeting its lenders, right here in london,
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to find out whether those that it owes money to will throw them a lifeline or claw the money back at any cost. steinhoff may not be a household name to you. let me give you a bit of background. its origins are in the furniture business in germany in the ‘60s. but it's now a global giant, with brands across europe and the us. alarm bells were ringing last week when it failed to publish its financial results. what we did learn is that its grappling with a seven billion dollar hole in its finances. little wonder that the regulators are now taking a look. the value of shares is down 80% since the news broke, as investors stampeded for the exit. the scandal has claimed the scalps of both the chairman and the chief executive. those that gave the company money to help it expand are now exposed lerato mbele has been following the story from johannesburg.
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lerato, this is a huge corporate scandal, lots of people are saying this is perhaps the biggest thing we have seen on thejohannesburg stock exchange. can you bring a little context for us from south africa? well, they're calling it the biggest corporate scandal since enron because of what is the alleged financial and accounting irregularities in the company. as you rightly say, steinhoff is a global company. it has a leading african shareholders at its space. the gem and you spoke about is south africa's richest man, and he has the largest stake in steinhoff, and over the last week city has seen he is net worth declined to billion dollars, half what he is worth. another leading investor is the
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south african public investment corporation, the largest pension fund in the company. they have a 10% sta ke. fund in the company. they have a 10% stake. ordinary men and women trying to do the right thing are now exposed in the scandal. and then because it has global reach, retail companies in the united states, in britain and in germany and south africa, it means the tentacles of steinhoff have global reach and the permutations and repercussions are going to be global, not least the savers and investors but even 130,000 employees worldwide. savers and investors but even 130,000 employees worldwidem savers and investors but even 130,000 employees worldwide. it is a massive story. south africa has had its share of corporate scandals. most recently those linked with the gupta family. how indicative is this latest one, as the broader ethical dilemmas are going on in corporate south africa going on at the moment? to be honest with you, victoria, not many people know what to make of
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steinhoff other than to say it seems as though ostensibly corruption is not just something as though ostensibly corruption is notjust something exclusively as though ostensibly corruption is not just something exclusively a phenomenon in government but clearly something that has a face in the private sector. to that end of the financial services board, the regulator on the stock markets, is looking into this issue asking auditors to try to find the paper trail of financial irregularities. the south african minister of finance has entered the spray wanting answers on behalf of the ordinary men and women who are savers. as we said, this has global reach. the european central bank owns 01’ reach. the european central bank owns or holds bonds linked to steinhoff. so globally international creditors and regulators are looking for a nswers creditors and regulators are looking for answers and maybe once there has been a meeting with the banks, looking to convert some of the debt into a credit facility, that will keep steinhoff likud until those
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auditing figures have been released, until there is a clearer picture as to what was wrong with the accounting in steinhoff. we will have to wait and see what comes out of that meeting. but for now everybody is looking for an answer from the ecb to the south african finance ministry, to the regulators in various markets. it is amazing how quickly this has snowballed. we we re how quickly this has snowballed. we were talking about the massive drop in the valley of the shares. investors very much stampeding for the effort. part of the issue is the fa ct the effort. part of the issue is the fact no one seems to have seen it coming. this seems to have com pletely coming. this seems to have completely blindsided the investor community. one wonders how that is possible in this day and age when we are supposed to have better regulation, better checks and balances. how can something like this — you described it as the new enron. how could this have happened? i have heard pundits say this is down to one thing — the human
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wea kness down to one thing — the human weakness called greed. when you see a compa ny‘s weakness called greed. when you see a company's share price multiplied exponentially in a five—year period, just this year unaudited results showed revenue went up 48%, that is a killing for any shareholder of steinhoff stock. unfortunately that did not translate into liquidity. the company has had cash flow problems. it is only then when you dig into the balance sheet that you realise their problems. but for as long as the share price is ticking up long as the share price is ticking up and sticking up it seems like a boom for investors. and as long as they have money to make they don't ask questions. not until someone blows the lead out of the whole thing and this is what has really happened. so many people are just bringing it down to greed and hubris. the story of the day. thank you. that meeting happening later on today with the banks and there is going to be nerve—racking time for
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the london stock exchange because shareholders will vote on whether or not to remove the chairman. the vote has been brought by one of the lse‘s biggest single stakeholders, the billionaire investor sir chris hohn. but his campaign is putting the exchange's reputation at risk, say the lse‘s managers. here is a little bit more. now, let's brief you some other business stories: president trump is seeking to change the status quo with a new national security strategy. he named china and russia as competitors seeking to challenge the us. it reflects president trump's america first slogan which aims to prioritise the american people and promote prosperity. russian software security firm kaspersky lab has filed a lawsuit against the trump administration over a ban on its anti—virus products. kaspersky says the us has deprived it of due process rights by banning its software from government agencies. it is the latest move by the company to refute allegations that it is vulnerable
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to kremlin influence. transport startup virgin hyperloop one has appointed british billionaire richard branson as its new chairman and raised a new round of financing. this investment brings the total financing raised by by the company to $295million since its founding in 2014. let's look at what's trending in the business news this morning: the financial times reports that mining giant bhp billiton plans to withdraw from the world coal association due to differences over climate and energy policies, as well as the limited benefit it gets from membership of the industry association. we are going to be watching that one. bloomberg: british board members just keep getting older despite technology challenges.
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average age breaks through 60 years threshold for first time, while boards in other countries get younger business. british prime minister theresa may promises to negotiate a rapid brexit transition deal. good luck! and, don't forget, let us know what you are spotting online — use the hashtag bbc—the—briefing before i go, let's have a quick look on the market. we are seeing something of a santa rally and a lot of this is because of the tax cuts we are expecting to see, tax cuts to corporation rates and individual rates as well. lots of people imagining we will see a repatriation of cash in the us and it has caused a bit of cause forjollity for the season. a bit of cause forjollity for the season. so we have a bit of cause forjollity for the season. so we have seen a bit of cause forjollity for the season. so we have seen a boost at the market and that has followed over with what is going on in asia as well. that's it for business briefing this hour. some doctors are being pushed
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beyond their limits and could suffer increasing pressure over the next 20 years unless action is taken, that's according to the general medical council. the group says the uk's medical workforce is at crunch point. our health correspondent adina campbell reports. another stark warning about the state of our nhs. this time the gmc says it is concerned about the pressures and armies on doctors as they grapple with their growing workloads. —— unease. in its latest report it found that the supply of new doctors into the uk has not kept up new doctors into the uk has not kept up with demand. with a dependence on non—uk qualified doctors in some specialist areas. there was also a risk that some overseas doctors were being put off working in the uk. and
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an ongoing strain on doctors training. at the moment we see our doctors day in, day out doing a fantastic job at we doctors day in, day out doing a fantasticjob at we should not take that for granted and that is why things like the training environment forjunior doctors is things like the training environment for junior doctors is particularly important. and why we should neatly really clear about what we need to do to look after the attractiveness of the uk for overseas doctors as well. the department of health in england says the nhs currently has a record number of doctors, nearly 15,000 more since 2010, and is expanding the number of training places by 25%. labour, though, accused the government of mismanaging the nhs and says the workforce is in crisis. to meet the future needs of patients, the gmc now wa nts future needs of patients, the gmc now wants to reduce the burden on doctors, with improvements to their work—life balance through better training and flexible working conditions. coming up at 6am on breakfast, dan walker and naga munchetty will have all the day's news,
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business and sport. plenty more on a new initiative that will encourage parents, teachers and young people to have their say on how children to be taught about sex education in schools. this is the briefing from bbc news. the latest headlines: president trump has set out his security vision during a major speech, while a senior general has told the bbc north korea remains a grave threat. mr trump also referred to china and russia as global powers challenging the us on the world stage. his briefing did not mention climate change. several people are confirmed dead after a high speed train derailed and plunged off a bridge and onto a motorway in washington state. about 100 people were taken to hospital, most of them passengers. the train was on its first run on a new, faster route from seattle to portland. cyril ramaphosa, the wealthy businessman and former trade union
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leader, has been elected leader of south africa's governing anc. he's 65, a veteran of the anti—apartheid struggle, and has been the party's deputy president since 2012. he's promised to fight corruption and revive the economy. now it is time look at the stories that are making the headlines in media across the world. we begin with the digital front page of the washington post, which is leading with one of our top stories, the passenger train derailed outside seattle, killing at least three people. this extraordinary image shows the scale of the crash. the guardian front page is headlining brexit. with eu negotiator michel barnier telling british pm theresa may, there'll be no bespoke deal for the city of london and its financial services. the website buzzfeed has the story on refugees documenting the condition of european refugee camps, via phone applications like whatsapp, this is in spite of a ban on filming inside the facilities. lets go to the financial times,
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which reports a new brussels corporate tax probe into ikea. it's the latest in the eu regulator's four—year crackdown on aggressive corporate tax avoidance. finally in the sun, the £3.1 billion hms queen elizabeth has sprung a leak, just over a week after being commissioned. the faulty seal will be fixed but it's prompting us to ask on twitter — what have you spent a small fortune on over christmas that gave you a sinking feeling? so let's begin. with me is nina trentmann from the wall streetjournal. i hope you have had some copy. i hope you have had some copylj did. —— coffee. i hope you have had some copylj did. -- coffee. let's start with the
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